New Portugal coach Bento sets sights on Euro 2012
Portugal's new coach Paulo Bento said Wednesday his immediate aim is to turn around the national team's fortunes after it took only one point from its first two qualifying games for the 2012 European Championship.
"It's a difficult mission," Bento said Wednesday but he added, "We still have a chance to get back on track."
Bento urged fans to fill Porto's Stadium of the Dragon for next month's Euro 2012 qualifier against Denmark. Four days later, Portugual plays Iceland away in Group H.
"Our whole focus is on the next two games," Bento said. "We have the quality to make it."
Portugal produced indifferent performances in a 1-0 loss at Norway and a 4-4 draw at home against lowly Cyprus. The winless run constituted Portugal's worst start to a qualifying campaign since 1996.
Carlos Queiroz, who was fired earlier this month, sat out those two games after being suspended for misconduct.
The team was also missing the injured Cristiano Ronaldo in those matches and lacked an inspirational playmaker after Deco and Simao Sabrosa both retired from international football following the World Cup.
The 41-year-old Bento's only previous senior coaching experience was at Sporting Lisbon between 2005-09.
The Portuguese Football Federation tried unsuccessfully to hire Real Madrid's Jose Mourinho as an interim coach for its upcoming qualifiers, but the Spanish club rebuffed the approach.
Bento, hired on a two-year contract, said he was not upset about being second choice.
"I don't feel bad about having been the second choice behind one of the world's best coaches, if not the best," he said.